Sunday, March 27, 2005

Fallout from the Schiavo case

Sure, there's been an upsurge in the number of people drafting advance directives and living wills. But the ultimate effect of the Terri Schiavo case could be to change Congress' balance of power.

The public's distaste for the extraordinary intervention of Congress and President Bush in this tragic situation -- 82 percent of Americans believe politicians had no business getting involved -- could give congressional Democrats the cover they've been looking for to oppose several of Bush's appeals court nominees whose rulings they think would be too conservative or politically motivated. That, in turn, could prompt Senate Republicans to carry out their threats of detonating the "nuclear option" of changing the rules to eliminate the filibuster in debates over judicial nominees.

Because the Senate has, for almost 200 years, allowed unlimited debate unless at least a three-fifths majority voted otherwise, Democratic candidates could easily portray the elimination of the filibuster as an unprecedented bit of overreaching by Republicans determined to advance their agenda at all costs. Combined with existing public unease about the Iraq war and Social Security privatization, that portrayal could result in Democrats taking control of one or both houses of Congress in 2006.

You'll notice that "could" appears a lot in the previous paragraphs; that's because it's too early to know for sure how the Schiavo situation will affect the 2006 election, if at all. The likeliest outcome is that Senate Republicans won't cobble together enough votes to eliminate the filibuster and that most Americans will forget all about Schiavo in a few weeks after the television news networks move on to their latest scandal du jour.

Still, the Schiavo case has the potential to send a few independent voters drifting in one direction or another. With the country divided so closely along partisan lines, almost any such event can prove to be a decisive political moment.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Democrats COULD do these things...if CNN and FOX would cover any stories besides Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

You want to hear about other stories? Well, I guess they could follow up on Robert Blake, but only if you really insist...

Seriously, we've developed a big bread and circuses problem in this country, and the television networks are doing nothing but adding fuel to that fire.

5:30 PM  

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